Matt Cuttle has already reviewed Bayonetta giving it a glowing review and score of 9 out of 10. Because Sega also kindly supplied me with a review sample I thought I should post my thoughts as well, especially as they don’t quite merge with those of Matt’s. So here for you is my review of Bayonetta for Xbox 360.
Probably just like you my first encounter with Bayonetta was when Sega first started to release promotional pictures of their new gaming heroine. I can’t say I was particularly thrilled; not because I thought Bayonetta was unattractive or anything, but rather I personally don’t find that promotional material designed to tickle the naughty parts of my brain actually does so. Again I’m not saying that computer generated figures can’t be sexy (you don’t play video games for 26 years without getting attracted the occasional character) but just in the same way Lara Croft was designed to appeal to spotty teenage boys; Bayonetta has been drawn up to attract those same teenage boys now that they have grown into thirty something aged men.
Even after the first screenshots and trailers emerged I wasn’t too impressed because I’ve never been a big fan of button bashing brawlers and beat em ups. I grew out of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter many years ago and whenever I’ve taken a small step back into the series I’ve always found them to be relatively pointless featuring little progression from the 16bit days. Granted Bayonetta is a 3D brawler and not a 2D fighter but games such as Devil May Cry have also not been my cup of hot beverage either.
Bayonetta comes from Platinum Games and Sega; the same partnership that brought me Madworld for the Wii which I actually did like. For me Madworld wasn’t just a pointless button bash fest; the story was actually rather deep and an innovate use of graphics, sound and controls really did tip the balance. So does Bayonetta pick up after Madworld in my estimation or does it join the pile of games on my ‘don’t play’ list?
After starting the game two times and therefore playing the starting cut scenes thorough twice I was still unable to fathom what the hell was going on. It may sound like an exaggeration but honestly it’s not. We see clips of Bayonetta when she is younger, seemingly locked up in some sort of monastery because she is an evil witch whereas the others around her are good witches. We then jump to a scene in a graveyard with Bayonetta chatting with Morpheus from The Matrix (he’s called Rodin here) and a snivelling man that sounds like Joe Pesci from Goodfellas. I have the same feeling when I see cut scenes from the modern Final Fantasy games too. I gave up and played through most of the game not worrying about the storyline. My advice, you should too.
You are plonked right into the action in the aforementioned graveyard and your first job (well only job) is to clear the area of the Angelic Beings trying to kill you and then move on to the next. As you defeat the Angels they drop their Halo’s which you can collect to spend on new weapons and items in Rodin’s store (cutely named; The Gates of Hell). Because battling Angels (and other creatures beaming down from Heaven) is all you really do it’s important to look at the battle system right now.
Bayonetta is a fully loaded woman right from the start of the game; she holds guns in her hands and has guns attached to the heels of her boots. She can also: jump, punch and kick like nobody’s business as well – lovely. So with all Bayonetta’s skills it’s funny to find out that you will only last a few minutes against the baddies (or are they goodies?) without using Witch Time. If you succeed in hitting the right trigger just milliseconds before an opponent’s attack strikes; Bayonetta will dodge out of the way and trigger Witch Time; this effectively gives you between 3 and 8 seconds of time to whack everyone silly whilst they are frozen on the spot.
So whilst Bayonetta can perform an absolutely massive range of moves and create devastating combos that would make anyone with half a mind run in the opposite direction; there just isn’t much need to use them. For me defeating almost every enemy became one long chore of running towards them; dodging at the last moment to activate Witch Time, pounding the kick and punch buttons randomly and repeating the process until all of the enemies were gone. I don’t think the Pope will enjoy Bayonetta with the amount of Angel killing in this game; luckily for me I’m an Atheist so kicking two tons of crap out of a load of Angels was no problem for me regardless of memorizing combos.
Ok so it’s true that sometimes you can press A and B together to activate a super attack which can deal tons of gory damage to the victim but I failed to find out under what conditions to trigger them that often. Sure they looked fantastic with blood flying everywhere but once again it seemed odd to have such an intricate fighting mechanic on one side and then to go and give you the ability to knock half or more of an opponent’s health away in one go. In between all of the senseless violence you can take Bayonetta on some lovely scenic routes looking for items hidden away off the beaten track. Three varieties of magical lollypop can be created by mixing magical herbs found on your travels; green lollypops boost your health, red will boost your magic and yellow will create a protective shield around you. Of course there are plenty more items and weapons in the game; just too many to mention here. My problem was that I wasn’t earning enough Halos’ by killing Angel’s with enough combo points to buy most of the good stuff in Rodin’s store.
I suppose a review of Bayonetta can’t go ahead without mentioning the ultra-massive boss battles; I can’t fault Platinum Games for creating not only huge but stunning boss fights. What I can fault them for though is making the bosses so big they hardly fit on the screen and the fact that the bosses are really tough. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never been a fan of bosses that much in the first place, so having a game jam packed with bosses that want to break my balls at every turn isn’t really my idea of a good time. However I can’t deny that watching Bayonetta strip off to create huge Boss eating creatures out of her long dark hair at the end of each fight isn’t a spectacle.
To sum up Bayonetta is an absolutely stunning looking action game with some of the best in-game and FMV visuals seen on the Xbox 360. Almost every battle takes place in wonderfully lush and detailed environments; sadly sometimes things get a bit too busy and the framerate drops from its usual 60 frames per second but thankfully it doesn’t happen too often. This is made up for when you get to run and battle sideways and upside down in a perverse Matrix meets Mario Galaxy style.
The cutscenes are always worth watching because Bayonetta always has a new way to be sexy, provocative and deadly – it’s just a shame that for every lovely FMV cutscene in the game there are some boring still frame ones with subtitles. Bayonetta herself is a treat on the ears with her English accent and wit; however with (seemingly) every battle in the game using the same background song ‘Fly me to the moon’ it’s an understatement to say that I got fed up with the soundtrack very quickly.
Bayonetta for Xbox 360 is a strange title for me. I can see that the game was lovingly created with massive production values and some awesome talent; so why did I find myself bored and just bashing buttons like 2 year old just to get through the levels? Was it because I don’t like hack and slash brawlers? Was it because I just happen to have my own long haired sexy brunette living with me, thus not requiring the titillation? Was the game at fault for not bringing me into it or am I at fault for not getting into it myself? Perhaps it just comes down to Bayonetta and me not being a compatible couple.
Whatever the weather; Bayonetta is what she is. If you love to bash buttons to make a woman kill God’s holy servants then this is the game for you. 6 out of 10.
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